The Cleveland Browns recently started minicamp and an intense quarterback battle between Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy began.
Cleveland hasn’t had much success with first-round quarterbacks, but Weeden is different than other first-round signal-callers. The former Oklahoma State field general is 28 years old.
Weeden had a big year at Oklahoma State last season, but McCoy has NFL experience and wasn’t terrible in 2011.
The two have distinct strengths and weaknesses.
Should the Browns want to run more of a West Coast offense and work the ball down the field with consistent, five-to-ten yard passes, McCoy will be the guy.
Colt McCoy Stat Prediction (if he wins starting job): 280-for-460 (61%), 17 TDs, 12 INTs, 2,850 yards
I predict, though, that Weeden will win the starting job as Cleveland moves more toward a middle-to-deep passing attack. The team has the pieces to do it and they didn’t spend a first-rounder on Weeden without cause.
Brandon Weeden Stat Prediction (if he wins starting job): 270-for-480 (56%), 17 TDs, 16 INTs, 3,450 yards
At running back, Trent Richardson should be a very good player. After a huge year at Alabama, Richardson should translate well to the rough AFC North.
I have my doubts as to whether or not Richardson will fare well in the cold weather, but he has all the traits of a solid rusher and should be in the top five of NFL running backs within the first few years of his career.
Trent Richardson Stat Prediction: 240 carries, 1,100 yards, 7 TDs
The wide receiver corps should be rather solid in 2012. As much as people like to bag on the Browns’ receivers, the team has a good, developing young corps going into the new season.
Look for the team to make waves with young wideout Greg Little from North Carolina. He’s coming into his own and should be a huge factor this season.
Greg Little Stat Prediction: 75 receptions, 875 yards, 5 TDs
Josh Cribbs is more than just a kick returner. He, too, is a solid option at receiver and made some big plays for the Browns in 2011.
Look for him to build on his numbers from last season, no matter who the starter at quarterback is.
Josh Cribbs Stat Prediction: 50 receptions, 550 yards, 5 TDs
Finally, tight end Benjamin Watson is an above average receiver at his position and he is a nice safety valve for whomever the Browns have at quarterback. The former Patriot is getting up there in age and may not build on his 2011 totals, but should still have success.
Benjamin Watson Stat Prediction: 35 receptions, 400 yards, 3 TDs
As for the rest of the team, look for a number of players to contribute a few hundred yards or a couple of touchdowns here and there. Speedy draftee Travis Benjamin could surprise some with solid totals in his first year, but after that, there’s nothing much to see here.